Make Magical Memories with Missouri Holiday Traditions

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Silver Dollar City
Credit: Courtesy of Branson CVB
Silver Dollar City
Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Steinberg Rink - Forest Park

Whether your holidays are low-key or filled to the brim with activities, enjoying a favorite spot or special event is one sure way to savor the season. From cutting your own Christmas tree to ice skating under the stars, Missouri offers many opportunities to create memorable holiday traditions.

Trees to Trim

Climb aboard a wagon pulled by a pair of Belgian horses for a trip to the Christmas tree fields at Meier Horseshoe Pines Tree Farm near Jackson. After you select a white pine, loblolly pitch pine, Scotch pine, Norway spruce or cedar, a field worker will cut your tree and prep it for the trip home. The tree field is open the Friday after Thanksgiving and on Saturdays and Sundays until Christmas. The farm’s Christmas shop is stocked with fresh wreaths and garlands, ornaments and holiday decor.

Choose a pine or fir at Starr Pines Christmas Tree Farm near Boonville. Saws are provided to cut your own tree, which is wrapped so you can easily transport it. Pre-cut trees are also available. While you’re there, shop for holiday wreaths and gifts, and meet the resident donkeys. The farm is open daily from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Festive Sights

For many families, the Christmas season is not complete without holiday lights. A flip of the switch on Thanksgiving evening reveals thousands of jewel-toned lights outlining every dome, tower and window in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza. The lighting ceremony has been a treasured tradition for more than nine decades. The lights illuminate the 15-block shopping district Nov. 23 – Jan. 14, creating a sparkling sight you’ll want to see year after year.

Immerse yourself in more than 6.5 million lights and hundreds of decorated trees during An Old Time Christmas Nov. 4 – Dec. 30 at Silver Dollar City in Branson. The celebration – one of the nation’s top theme park holiday events – features a Christmas light parade, holiday shows, specialty shops, homestyle meals and sweet treats.

The award-winning Saint Louis Zoo shines bright during Wild Lights Nov. 24 – Dec. 30. Stroll through the grounds decorated with a million lights and whimsical animal-themed displays. Costumed characters and carolers spread holiday cheer throughout the zoo.

Christmas Traditions, Nov. 24 – Dec. 24 in St. Charles, combines yuletide traditions of yesteryear with a festive celebration featuring legendary holiday characters and Victorian carolers. Shop and dine in the historic downtown, draped in holiday décor.

Garden Lights

The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis sparkles with nearly 2 million lights during Garden Glow Nov. 18 – Jan. 6. Indulge in s’mores, hot chocolate and holiday-themed drinks. Have dinner at Sassafras or reserve a private fire pit.

Enter a winter wonderland during the Festival of Lights Nov. 16 – Dec. 30 at Powell Gardens in Kingsville, about 40 miles southeast of Kansas City. More than 20 miles of lights complement the garden’s expansive landscape and architectural features.

Ice Skating with a View

Glide across the ice beneath a billowy, white canopy at the Crown Center Ice Terrace in Kansas City. During the holiday season, admire the Mayor’s Christmas Tree – one of the tallest in the United States. Public skating sessions are held daily, except for Christmas Day, from Nov. 3 – March 10.

Steinberg Skating Rink, the largest outdoor ice skating rink in the Midwest, offers public skating every day – including holidays – in St. Louis’ Forest Park. The rink is open Nov. 17 – March 3. Take a break for lunch or dinner at the Starlight Cafe.

Lace up your skates for Winterfest at Kiener Plaza in St. Louis on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Nov. 18 – Dec. 31. Enjoy a view of the Gateway Arch, 100,000 twinkling lights, s’mores stations and festive music. Reserve a heated “igloo” to warm up rink-side.

Seasonal Sipping

As the temperatures drop and the holidays approach, attractions, restaurants and hotels across the state open wintery pop-up bars perfect for a festive outing with friends.

On each side of the state Miracle STL and Miracle KC serve up fun, cleverly named drinks sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

City Museum hosts Weirdly Wonderful Holidays, part of which is the Yeti Bar. Open from November 24 to December 31 on select days, visitors can stop by the City Chalet, The North Pole and Holly Jolly Café to sample specialty cocktails.

Hermann becomes a cozy retreat during the winter season, and a stop at Evergreen’s Christmas pop-up bar, A Marshmallow World, is the icing on the cake … or the maraschino cherry in a Manhattan.

Other spots worth checking out are Frosted at Tower Grove Park, Winter Skies in Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center, and Tinsel at Tipsy Taco KC.

It’s advised to make reservations if you’re planning to attend a holiday pop-up bar. Seating is often limited, so walk-ins might have a long wait time.